Alistair Dabbs

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Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling IT journalism, editorial training and digital publishing.
Angry old man

You have a 'SIMPLE QUESTION'? Well, the answer is NO

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Old Man by Neil Young I am accosted in a shop by an aged gentleman with a posh accent, impeccable manners and a dripping nose. “Excuse me, I have a simple question.” Confession: I am in a suburban Apple Store so you may be inclined to think I deserve whatever I get simply for being there. In my defence, let me assure you I had …
Alistair Dabbs, 20 Dec 2014

Real Ale TWATS: In SPAAAACE, no one can churn your cream

Something for the Weekend, Sir? How can you get pissed, generously fed AND intellectually intrigued for a mere tenner in this day and age? Easy: sign up to attend one of The Register’s Christmas Lectures. Oh, except you can’t because the last one was held earlier this week in central London. Sorry if you missed it, heh. OK, a few pints won’t get the average …
Alistair Dabbs, 13 Dec 2014

How HAPPY am I on a scale of 1 to 10? Where do I click PISSED OFF?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I am in a long, slow-moving queue of anxious passengers trudging through airport security like chained natives thrown into the lava pit by Ursula Andress giving a “lesson in obedience”. I remove all items from my trouser pockets and put them in my coat pockets. I take off my coat and put it in a plastic tray. My laptop goes in …
Alistair Dabbs, 06 Dec 2014

Go festive this year with Christmas carols, baby Jesus and CLITORAL STIMULATORS

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Taking my place in the boardroom for the weekly “sit-down” meeting, I make a faux pas: I try to make polite conversation. In my defence, I claim temporary confusion due to a mix-up with the more casual weekly “stand-up” meeting, which is held in another room but otherwise attended by precisely the same people who are now sitting …
Alistair Dabbs, 29 Nov 2014

I need a password to BRAKE? What? No! STOP! Aaaargh!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Why are Volvos called Volvos? Because their drivers are cunts.” Youtube Video So pronounced one of my bosses in my student holiday job days, as he sat, Buddha-like, at the head of the baggage-handlers’ crew-room at Leeds-Bradford Airport, delivering his words of wisdom to a weary audience of one. I eventually learned that …
Alistair Dabbs, 22 Nov 2014
2001 HAL poster

It’s PAYBACK time as HUMANS send a PROBE up ALIEN body

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “We hit something the size of South London from ten years away.” Thus spake commentard Colin Ritchie the other day in response to The Register’s ongoing coverage of Rosetta’s extraordinary space odyssey. 2001: A Space Odyssey - The Monolith On The Moon The significance of such an achievement should not be underestimated. In the …
Alistair Dabbs, 15 Nov 2014
Moments of perspiration

Got a STRAP-ON? Remember to TAKE IT OFF at WORK

Something for the Weekend, Sir? As soon as I arrive at a client’s office, I take everything off. The scratchy, suffocating feeling produced simply by wearing stuff drives me to distraction, so whenever I get the chance, off it comes. Oh to feel the air on my skin... My clothes, you will be relieved to learn, remain distributed in rough approximation of current …
Alistair Dabbs, 08 Nov 2014

Me GIVE you $14 SQUILLION gadziddly-DILLION

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Youtube Video I wish to notify you that my Late client Late. Engr. Alberto Gruber made you a beneficiary to his WILL. He left the sum of Seventeen Million Two Hundred Thousand Dollars (US$17,200.000.00) to you in the codicil and last testament to his WILL. After many years of relative calm in my spam box, a slow but steady …
Alistair Dabbs, 01 Nov 2014
iPad Psycho image

SKYPE has the HOTS for my NAKED WIFE

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My wife is parading naked in front of a webcam again. Here's the funny thing, though: she doesn't even know that the webcam is on. In fact, it's not even her computer – it's mine – and she's not doing it deliberately. Come to think of it, I wasn't even aware that my webcam was on until just now when the green LED illuminated all …
Alistair Dabbs, 25 Oct 2014
The Queen Mother by Phil Houghton

Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM

Something for the Weekend, Sir? When you have to go, you have to go. And when you do, don’t rush it otherwise you can end up with damp socks… as my father-in-law discovered during a hurried slash-and-dash in a not-so-lonely lay-by one night. I might revisit that particular anecdote later. For the moment, I invite you to consider what the computer has brought …
Alistair Dabbs, 18 Oct 2014
A black hole

Take CTRL! Shallow minds ponder the DEEP spectre of DARK CACHE

Something for the Weekend, Sir? If in doubt, right-click. It’s a motto that has served me well and stood the test of time. Can’t locate a command under multiple sub-menus? Right-click – it’s probably in the contextual menu. Can’t remember what the command is called? Right-click – you’ll find it there. Have absolutely no idea what to do next? Right-click – it …
Alistair Dabbs, 12 Oct 2014

What’s the KEYBOARD SHORTCUT for Delete?! Look in a contextual menu, fool!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I'm leading a training course and a voice calls out: “Where’s the Spacebar?” Not such a daft question, you might think. When training people, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is comfortable with keyboard jargon. Except that I’m not teaching pensioners, Siberian farmers or visiting Martians, but journalists. You’d expect …
Alistair Dabbs, 04 Oct 2014

CURSE YOU, 'streaming' music services! I want a bloody CD

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Oh bloody hell, grandma, what have you done this time? “I thought that was obvious. It’s your birthday. I bought you a CD.” A CD? That’s so uncool. So unhip. Are you, like, square? “I remembered you used to like music when you were a student. Have you gone off it?” You no’ down wit’ da word, daddio. Grannio. CD is old. Is all …
Alistair Dabbs, 27 Sep 2014
Rubber bands

Oh God the RUBBER on my SHAFT has gone wrong and is STICKING to things

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My stiff rubbery shaft is sticky. I have tried applying water, gentle detergents and even screen wipes but the stickiness of my rubber remains. It is sticky along its full length from tip to end and even my wife, who has tried to peel off the rubber, agrees that the shaft feels unpleasant in her hands. The next time I buy a …
Alistair Dabbs, 20 Sep 2014

The Apple Watch and CROTCH RUBBING. How are they related?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? We would know when Peter had scored the night before because he’d walk into the office rubbing his crotch. The “lucky” girl to have been the subject of his special favours would invariably trot in a few paces behind, beaming smugly at her colleagues. These were the 1980s. Today everyone is obsessed with arses – Miley Cyrus’s …
Alistair Dabbs, 13 Sep 2014

IT jargon is absolutely REAMED with sexual double-entendres

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My wife is looking at online porn again. This can happen accidentally to anyone from time to time, usually while reading through the results of perfectly innocent web searches such as oyster bar or prize giving head boy. But here my wife is scrolling through pictures of men being er... “serviced” from behind by women wearing …
Alistair Dabbs, 07 Sep 2014

If you think 3D printing is just firing blanks, just you wait

Something for the Weekend, Sir? This week I met a gun nut. I knew this immediately because he was an American with a moustache. Americans with moustaches are always gun nuts. Don’t blame me, I don’t make the rules. It is simply the way of things. Youtube Video Sitting down at a gala dinner, I found myself sharing a table with an amiable group of US citizens …
Alistair Dabbs, 31 Aug 2014
Wifi grumpy cat

I’ve never paid for it in my life... we are talking Wi-Fi, right?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Free at last! Free at last! Thank God, I’ve found some public Wi-Fi that’s free at last! When I say free, I mean I didn’t have to pay for it by giving away my email, address, date of birth or inside leg measurement, nor have to invent yet another unique password for the privilege of getting online at this location just for this …
Alistair Dabbs, 23 Aug 2014

You'll find Yoda at the back of every IT conference

Something for the Weekend, Sir? On stage, the presenter barely pauses for breath as he shares his extraordinary knowledge with rapid-fire delivery. His audience is captivated, amazed, enthralled. Digital design students all, they are learning from a master of online retail what life is like at the cutting edge of user interaction, giving them a hint of the hi- …
Alistair Dabbs, 15 Aug 2014
Costa Wi-Fi coffee

Nuts to your poncey hipster coffees, I want a TESLA ELECTRO-CAFE

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Tales from Bohemia, Silicon Roundabout style: in which intrepid explorer Alistair Dabbs goes in search of a cup of coffee in London's Silicon Roundabout tech district traffic feature... Indie cafe 1: Large soya latte, please. Am told they don’t do them in large. They weren’t wrong – drink is served in a vessel smaller than a …
Alistair Dabbs, 08 Aug 2014

Nice computers don’t need to go to the toilet, says Barclays

Something for the Weekend, Sir?* Ever been invited to a party only to discover they gave you the wrong address? This doesn’t happen to me often but then I’m not the sort of person whom people invite to parties. Anyway, this wasn’t a party, it was a user group meetup. There I am, having made an attempt to smarten up a bit, travelled across town and deliberately …
Alistair Dabbs, 31 Jul 2014
(c) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. TM Danjaq, LLC. All Rights Reserved

NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Excuse me, sir, may I see your passport?” You have to give credit to white-collar Americans, even the seven-foot Richard Kiel cosplay US government thug in front of me: they are so polite. The odd thing was that I haven’t reached the States yet. I haven't even boarded the plane. In fact, I am still at Heathrow and had been …
Alistair Dabbs, 25 Jul 2014

Unbridled BONKING and rampant ROGERING at YOUR office!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Youtube Video Sex sex sex, that’s all we think about, apparently. I think I read somewhere that men think about sex every seven seconds. But then you shouldn’t believe everything you read because a person could hardly concentrate on (SEX) matters on a day-to-day basis if this was the case and you would turn into a (SEX) machine …
Alistair Dabbs, 18 Jul 2014

The final score: Gramophones 1 – Glassholes 0

Something for the Weekend, Sir? What do the following have in common: a hand holding a half-litre carton of milk, the back of a balding head, a grinning selfie taken in a mirror and a wonky street scene with nothing of any interest going on? That’s right, it’s your life – courtesy of Google Glass. A number of colleagues have spent the last few weeks playing …
Alistair Dabbs, 11 Jul 2014

You 'posted' a 'letter' with Outlook... No, NO, that's the MONITOR

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Sorry to bother you. Are you busy?” Instinctively, I look at my watch. Here we go. Bet you he’s going to ask me to fix something trivial. “Don’t worry, Bill,” I reply. “What’s up?” “The computer web isn’t working.” Ah bless, the guy’s long past retirement age but still hangs in there. In fact, he’s a bit of an entrepreneurial …
Alistair Dabbs, 04 Jul 2014
A man shouting angrily

You need a list of specific unknowns we may encounter? Huh?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? The CIO flew in the other day. I am just a contractor so I only hear stories but so mythical is this fellow that I get the impression he must have flown in by winged chariot and would be trotting across town to our office on a company-funded unicorn. His arrival would then be announced by a fanfare of trumpets and a team of …
Alistair Dabbs, 27 Jun 2014

DON’T add me to your social network, I have NO IDEA who you are

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Norbert Spankmonkey has invited you to connect. Oh dear, not another one of these mystery invitations. Who the heck is Norbert Spankmonkey? Did we exchange emails perhaps, or cross swords recently on a forum? Could I have met him at that conference earlier in the week, the one at the casino that ended with free drinks? I recall …
Alistair Dabbs, 20 Jun 2014
frustration_anger_irritation_annoyance pain

Adobe Creative Cloud 2014: Progress and pain in the usual places

Comment Remember when software product upgrades were a big thing? Balloons, keyrings, parties? Today, they’re slipped under the door furtively like a pizza takeaway price list. And so it is with Adobe’s announcement today of what’s new in Creative Cloud: lots of PR singing by email, but no actual dancing seems to be taking place. When …
Alistair Dabbs, 19 Jun 2014
Twitter girl

Move over, John Pilger, let us IT scandal-mongerers stick it to you

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Many thanks to the gentle readers who wished me well over the last couple of weeks as I lay in bed watching the ceiling spin. For those of you who enjoy listening to people whose name you are familiar with but whom you don’t really know talk at length about their petty illnesses as if they were life-threatening events of …
Alistair Dabbs, 13 Jun 2014
Monty Python

I am NOT a PC repair man. I will NOT get your iPad working

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Alistair Dabbs is recovering from the dreaded lurgy, but still none too chipper this week, so we’re happy to let him linger in his bath chair and tartan blanket once again. No doubt his neighbours will be concerned though, if this repeat publication from 2013 is anything to go by. “My nephew bought me one of those iPad things …
Alistair Dabbs, 06 Jun 2014
Inch-thick layer of fluff on PC case

The hoarder's dilemma: 'Why can't I throw anything away?'

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Alistair Dabbs is unwell this week. This column is a repeat publication of something we found, er, at the back of the cupboard. It's actually not that musty (it's from 2012). I like my house zen. Unfortunately, I am a hoarder, so it’s not. My half-life wife has been trying to educate me by making me watch TV programmes with …
Alistair Dabbs, 30 May 2014
Angry Birds

Look, pal, it’s YOUR password so it’s YOUR fault that it's gone AWOL

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Dear Mr Dabbs. Thank you for your business. Please see invoice enclosed. This doesn’t bode well: I am not the sort of person who is able to make private purchases on account. As much as I’d love to swan into a shop, point at various things and drawl “Send them over, will you, darlings?” as I saunter off into a waiting limo, …
Alistair Dabbs, 23 May 2014

Cloud computing is FAIL and here’s why

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Adobe’s spectacular FAIL over the last 48 hours confirmed, rather than revealed, cloud computing to be so unreliable as to be positively dangerous. Cloud computing is shite. It takes over everything you’ve got, then farts in your face and runs away giggling. For those readers blissfully ignorant of what us media production types …
Alistair Dabbs, 16 May 2014

Quick Q: How many FLOPPIES do I need for 16 MILLION image files?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Howls of protest sound across the globe as I write this. I’ve been hired to help with the managed migration of incomprehensible volumes of data from one multi-intercontinental, instant-access media library system to another. The protest isn’t a response to my hiring, understandable though that would be. No, my role is …
Alistair Dabbs, 09 May 2014
Woman looks immensely happy while staring into blank screen of unplugged monitor

Please work for nothing, Mr Dabbs. What can you lose?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “So,” murmured the blonde in the now-deserted restaurant late the other evening as she lazily traced the rim of her wineglass with her middle finger before looking up to fix her eyes on mine, “what excites you?” No, I’m not remembering this accurately. It wasn’t a wineglass but a cup of coffee and she was stirring it furiously …
Alistair Dabbs, 02 May 2014
School of Rock

Brain surgery? Would sir care for a CHOC-ICE with that?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Another Easter, another long weekend, another splurge of CVs sent into the ether. Englishmen joke about Bank Holidays reliably bringing rain but the other thing you can count on following a public holiday is an exodus of staff seeking pastures new – or rather, pastures less strewn with the rank, metaphoric faeces of their …
Alistair Dabbs, 25 Apr 2014

Whaddaya mean, NO REFUND? But I paid in Bitcoins! Oh I see...

Something after the Weekend, Sir? Don’t tell anyone but I think I might have made an arse of myself again. It’s one thing to show oneself up among one’s peers but another to demonstrate publicly how thick I am front of people who are smarter, sharper, more successful and frankly a damn sight wealthier than me – a sector of society I generally refer to as "other …
Alistair Dabbs, 22 Apr 2014
Life of Brian

Innovation creates instability, you say? BLASPHEMY, you SCUM

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Mobbafer.” I’m sorry? “Mobbafer.” I didn’t quite catch that. “Mobbafer.” So, ah, you mean, hmm… mob-ba-fer? “Mobbafer! Mobbafer!” When dealing with people who have impenetrable accents – and by that I mean any accent different from my own – I don’t get angry, I get embarrassed. As the interlocutor tries harder to be understood …
Alistair Dabbs, 11 Apr 2014

Nothing's as SCARY as an overly aggressive SOFTWARE PIMP

Something for the Weekend, Sir? "Fans, players and parents unite against England's 'rip-off' £90 World Cup kit" screamed the Mirror this week. "They think it’s all over... priced." Even after several thousand years of civilisation and organised commerce, it seems humans still don’t understand basic economics. Demand, not cost of manufacture, determines the …
Alistair Dabbs, 04 Apr 2014

Raised £350bn in crowdsourced funding? Tell me about it (not)

Something for the Weekend, Sir? His Girl Friday, All The President’s Men, Pravda, Broadcast News... As a journalist, I ought to be thrilled by reading books and watching dramatisations about other journalists being journalists and generally going about doing their journalisming. Yet there are few things in popular media as forlorn as a journalist talking about …
Alistair Dabbs, 28 Mar 2014
BB_PLAYBOOK_RIM_DOWN_TOILET

They want me to install CCTV to see what YOU did in the TOILET

Something For The Weekend, Sir? I have just come out of a boardroom presentation in which a fibre network installer bored us all shitless speaking in initials and acronyms for an hour and a half. The one time we woke up was when he used the expression “SLA”, being the only abbreviation that everyone in the room was familiar with – including the accountant. …
Alistair Dabbs, 21 Mar 2014

Amazon wants me to WEAR NAPPIES?! But I'm a 40-something MAN

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I am a very lucky man: Amazon is offering me a 20 per cent discount. The cynics among you might try to claim that everything at Amazon is offered at a 20 per cent discount because of its advantageous tax arrangements but that would be the result of confusion. My 20 per cent discount has nothing to do with VAT being 20 per cent …
Alistair Dabbs, 14 Mar 2014

Why can’t I walk past Maplin without buying stuff I don’t need?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Good news – after weeks of slaving over a seemingly interminable office refurb, occupying seven days a week and painstakingly documented in this column ad nauseam, I finally found some time to get some chores done. Time for me! Time that doesn’t involve paying bills or having to apologise for missing deadlines! Time not covered …
Alistair Dabbs, 07 Mar 2014

But... you work in IT... Why aren't we RICH?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Monetizing is not the goal; growing is.” And with that explanation for his company’s decision to put another £11.5bn of someone else’s money through the shredder, Mark Zuckerberg fired the starting gun for the race to the next dot-com crash. Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp was not ludicrous, however. Nor was it genius, nor …
Alistair Dabbs, 28 Feb 2014
Reput's app: what are your honest feelings about it?

You’re a LIAR and a CHEAT... la-la-la, I can't hear your lawyers

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Interactive Lard. Remember the name: one day they will be huge. This is the rock band name that Dabbsy Lite v1.2 came up with as a result of a random word search through a dictionary. I wouldn’t normally recommend this approach: look what flicking randomly through a discarded Atlas on Wimbledon Common did for Bungo Womble. But …
Alistair Dabbs, 21 Feb 2014
South Korean spam

Spam, a lot of it: Bubble tea is the Seoul of wit

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Your Spam Manager is holding 4 messages. Oh here we go... Subject: Customer Invoice Payment From an email address beginning "realestatetips"? I think not. Subject: PLEASE Update BANK DetaiLS Gosh yes that looks genuine, must open that later and run the attachment. Subject: Carreer oppurtunity As a literary agent, I suppose …
Alistair Dabbs, 14 Feb 2014
Alistair Dabbs' office

STRIPPED DOWN and EXPOSED: Business kit from the good old days

Something for the Weekend, Sir? A staple of radio phone-ins is to invite listeners to share their stories about funny things they found when moving into a new property. There are some tales that everyone can share, such as front doors fitted with a letterbox so small that you’d struggle to fit a postcard through without having to fold it in half. There are …
Alistair Dabbs, 07 Feb 2014
Apple advertises the first Mac

MAC TO THE FUTURE: 30 years of hindsight and smart-arsery

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Christian schoolchildren who pay attention during Religious Education classes will at some point independently wonder why there are more Commandments than Deadly Sins. Keep your Commandments – why are there only seven naughty things to do in one’s life? Even by the age of 12, most youngsters could invent plenty more juicy sins …
Alistair Dabbs, 31 Jan 2014
Terminator postal worker

Robots? What a bunch of workers...

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Robots have taken over my newsagent. Well, it’s more of a general store than a traditional sweet shop, I suppose. Also, the mecha infiltration so far seems limited to the tiny Post Office counter situated between the beyond-sell-by-date tinned produce and the freezer chest full of Captain’s Table gag-fests. Yet it’s from such …
Alistair Dabbs, 24 Jan 2014
Trainspotting email

My name is Dabbsy and I am an EMAILOHOLIC

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I think I have 30 email addresses; I’m not sure. I suspect there may be others. I have them on every computer and even carry some around on my smartphone. At the height of my addiction, I was creating domains and distributing email addresses to my wife and my employees. I even gave some to my kids. Clip from the Father Ted TV …
Alistair Dabbs, 17 Jan 2014